Earlier this month, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel announced their backing of the creation of a 21st Century Curriculum. These companies are funding a project that will explore teaching and evaluating skills like critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, communication, and others Common Core has mentioned before.
The companies are providing funding for at least three years to support a task force that will:
- - More precisely define the 21st century skills
- - Cast them in a form that is measurable and can be assessed, and create the tools to do so
- - Create “learning environments” that use information and communication technology
- - Disseminate the knowledge globally
Should businesses dictate what students need to know? It is true that school partnerships with the local business community are often integral to fundraising for special projects, mentoring and tutoring volunteers, providing opportunities for job shadowing, and recognizing teachers, but that is where the collaboration should end. Educators must not let knowledge be overshadowed by a focus on skills. As Common Core Board Member Toni Cortese has said, it is impractical to expect students to “think critically about nothing.” This is no chicken or egg scenario. Building knowledge is the first step; skills follow.